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Thursday 31 July 2014

Gavin seeks out players to match his 'ambitions'

AS introductions to senior inter-county football management go, Jim Gavin's first public outing as Dublin senior manager was as good a test as he could have wished for ahead of sterner challenges in the coming weeks.

Dublin's two-point victory over the Dubs Stars handed Gavin the perfect opportunity to assess his new panel and the make-up of that selection will depend largely on the mental fortitude of the players concerned, according to the Round Tower's, Clondalkin clubman.

"I'm primarily looking for players with character and that's what I've said all along," said Gavin. "Looking for players who really want to wear the Dublin jersey and who have a passion for it because ultimately I think those guys come through in the end anyway.

"They're the ones with high ambitions anyway and are as ambitious as I am," he said.

Gavin's success with the U-21s, which has garnered two All-Ireland titles in three years, has highlighted his influence on players of that grade and quite a number from those winning panels will be given a chance to prove their worth for the coming year.

Sigerson Cup commitments, in addition to Ballymun's All-Ireland club commitments, will force Gavin's hand to a certain degree but the age profile of his panel is not something that will unduly worry him.

"For me age works at both ends of the spectrum," Gavin said. "Declan O'Mahony was in and I would have worked with him in 2003 and that U-21 team that won the All-Ireland.

Physical

"I think he has something to offer and the same goes for the players who are essentially under-19s this year.

"Gaelic football, by its very nature, is probably 60pc skill and 40pc physical. Other sports, the likes of rugby might be 80-20.

"I think if players are skilful enough and have a certain physical capacity, you can put them in. Certainly I won't be afraid to put young players in," he said.

In a game of ever-narrowing margins, Gavin, in a move which maintains the continuity from the U-21 set-up, has called on Bernard Dunne to assist within his coaching team. Dunne's success in boxing at the highest level highlighted his mental strength and discipline and those characteristics will be hugely important given the added workload and pressure faced by intercounty players in the modern game.

"Bernard is the team's sports performance and lifestyle coach," Gavin explained. "He's worked with me in the past with the U-21 football teams and he's there to help players maximise their sporting performance and help them get their lifestyle aligned that'll give them the capability to perform.

"I've worked with him for a few years now and he is part of the backroom team. He has no involvement on the tactical side of the game but in helping players realise their potential and that's what it is.

"Every player has potential and he's a guy who has achieved at the very highest level at world sport and if we can tap into some of that then it might pay benefit," added Gavin.

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